I am Number Four - Dianna Agron
I am Number Four - Sarah (Dianna Agron) an amateur photographer © 2011 DreamWorks, Photo by John Bramley

Dianna Agron shot to stardom last year when the phenomenon known as Glee premiered on Fox TV. As the character of Quinn, a cheerleader who becomes pregnant, her storyline was an important part of the first season.

She’s now starring in the new sci fi thriller I Am Number Four as Sarah, a high school student that John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) meets and falls in love with. Unbeknownst to Sarah, John is an alien whose planet has been destroyed. He, along with other children from that planet, are in hiding on Earth, but their superpowers are beginning to emerge, and now they have to save this planet from the same aliens that destroyed theirs.

What was it about this script that made you want to use your hiatus from Glee to do it?

I am Number Four -  Alex Pettyfer and Dianna Agron
When John (Alex Pettyfer) meets Sarah (Dianna Agron), they begin a meaningful relationship © 2011 DreamWorks

What I loved about it was that the kids are quite mature and wise beyond their years. They might not be ‘cool kids’ or be the ones that pursue typical teenage activities, but they have a lot of heart and spirit, and they go on an awesome journey together.

Were you anything like Sarah when you were in school?

I was a part of the yearbook staff. I found a love for photography like Sarah, a very strong one that continues to this day. And there were certain qualities that I wanted to bring to Sarah that I thought were so obvious, at least to me when I read it. She has this wanderlust. She has aspirations to travel and to see the world. There’s a bit of an old soul quality to her. I had all these things that came to me right away and DJ liked so we kind of went with it.

This movie is certainly different than doing Glee?

Glee 1.09 - Members of the Glee Club perform. Amber Riley, Heather Morris, Lea Michele, Kevin McHale, Cory Monteith and Dianna Agron
Glee 1.09 Wheels - Members of the Glee Club perform. Amber Riley, Heather Morris, Lea Michele, Kevin McHale, Cory Monteith and Dianna Agron © Fox

It was wonderful. I found out very late in the process that I was going to be doing this movie so from the time I was cast to the time I was on set was about three weeks.

We finished the Glee tour at Radio City Music Hall and then that night I flew to Pittsburgh. And it was a real chance to step into a different world. But I was so happy to go back to being Quinn and seeing where she was going to go, because nobody knew what was going to happen in the second season. We kept trying to pick Ryan’s [Murphy] brain at the end of the first season and he wouldn’t tell us anything.

In this movie there is a lot of green screen. How difficult was that for you?

They did describe what was there for us and it would go to the tune of, ‘Well, he’s coming through this window really fast and you need to get over there.’ So there was a certain challenge to it.

But at the same time you think, ‘Okay, let me change this around. Let me think of a time that I’ve been really scared.’ And you try to use that. And when you see the final product like I did a couple days ago, it was just amazing, the effects and what they’ve accomplished. I’m just really impressed and hopefully my reactions seem appropriate.

What was working with Alex like?

I am Number Four - Dianna Agron and Alex Pettyfer
Sarah (Dianna Agron) is awed by the new ability John (Alex Pettyfer) shares with her © 2011 DreamWorks

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he was so excited and so dedicated to this film. He was in training for months to do the stunts, which turned out incredibly. And he just has an enthusiasm to him, which is nice. Because what I experience with the cast of Glee is just everybody’s there and having a good time but working really hard.

Sarah and John have a romance in this, is it hard for you to do love scenes?

You act. Those scenes can be technical because oftentimes the camera is very close and the lighting has to be just so. Even our DP was like, ‘No, you’re blocking her face, move back.’ It’s different for every actor, sometimes you can incorporate things that you’ve experienced in your life and use that.

Other times you just know what that feeling of hurt, of love, of anger, of depression is. And you do whatever it takes to get there in your mind and use it to your advantage whichever way it works best.

Do you have any plans for your hiatus this year? I know it’s a little bit early, but do you know what you’ll be doing when you do get a break?

I am Number Four - Dianna Agron
I am Number Four - Sarah (Dianna Agron) is an outsider at her high school © 2011 DreamWorks
I’m not sure. My backup plan is always, ‘Well, I’ll take a trip.’ That’s always a good option. So it’s definitely going to be something good whether it’s working on a project or whether it’s just taking my camera and going.

I’ve vowed that this summer it’ll be somewhere in Asia because I’ve done a lot of Europe and I’ve done Australia. I feel if I go to Africa I may never come back. I’m just going to live with the animals. I’m just going to adopt an elephant and it’s going to be my friend.

Have they talked to you about a sequel? Will your character come back?

The character is in the second book. I know what happens, but I probably shouldn’t say it. But there’s no way they could get it together for this summer. I mean they just finished the first chapter of the second book. And I think they want to wait and see how it takes off and resonates with people. So unless they were miracle workers, I don’t foresee doing that as a summer film.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.